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By  Alexander  J.  Wall 

Ass't  Librarian,  the  New  York  Historical  Society 

Reprinted  from  The  Quarterly  Bulletin,  July,  1920 



■Qb  W|§ 



G  K  0  K 

KiN(i<H  (;ii 



MIL  3c  mo 



IN  NEW  YORK  CITY  1770 

To  the  Colonial  disturbances  in  the  Colony  of  New  York 
brought  about  by  the  enactment  of  the  "Stamp  Act"  on  March 
22,  1765  may  be  laid  the  cause  for  the  erection  in  1770  of  the  two 
very  interesting  works  of  sculpture,  the  equestrian  Statue  of  King 
George  HI  and  the  pedestrian  statue  of  the  Honorable  William 
Pitt,  later  the  Earl  of  Chatham.  It  is  evident  from  contemporary 
accounts  that  it  was  William  Pitt  (the  Champion  of  the  American 
Cause  in  Parliament  and  his  eflForts  for  the  repeal  of  the  Stamp 
Act  on  March  18,  1766)  whom  the  Colonists  desired  mostly  to 
honor  in  consideration  of  his  many  services  for  the  Colonies  during 
those  troublesome  times.  But  the  Legislature  apparently  could 
hardly  justify  the  expenditure  of  a  sum  of  money  to  honor  Pitt 
and  ignore  the  King,  so  we  find  the  first  suggestion  for  the  famous 
Equestrian  Statue  of  King  George  III  originating  in  the  Assembly 
of  the  Colony  of  New  York  in  June,  1766  when  for  several  months 
previously  the  Statue  of  Pitt  had  been  a  matter  of  discussion  which 
resulted  in  a  petition  to  the  Assembly.  That  both  these  statues 
should  have  been  authorized  and  paid  for  simultaneously,  both 
executed  by  the  same  sculptor  in  London,  both  erected  in  the  City 
of  New  York  the  same  year  three  weeks  apart  and  both  destroyed 
six  years  later,  one  by  the  Americans  and  the  other  by  the  British 
and  all  that  is  left  of  each  of  them  should  now  rest  in  the  New  York 
room  of  the  New  York  Historical  Society  close  by  each  other,  al- 
though they  had  strayed  far  apart  for  many  years,  are  facts  in  the 
story  of  the  fate  of  these  two  most  interesting  local  statues  which 
romance  could  not  mould  better.  It  is,  therefore,  impossible  to 
separate  the  accounts  of  these  statues  in  history,  as  the  story  of 
one  relates  to  the  other.  The  statue  of  George  HI  was  the  first 
Equestrian  Statue  erected  in  America.^ 

One  of  the  earhest  mentions  of  the  intention  to  erect  the  Pitt 
Statue  occurs  in  the  Journals  of  Captain  John  Montressor  who 
under  date  of  March  18,  1766  writes: 

1  The  Equestrian  Statues  of  the  IVorld,  1913,  page  8.     Two  other  Equestrian  statues  were 
erected  to  George  III  according  to  this  Hst,  one  in  London  and  another  in  Liverpool. 

38  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK    HISTORICAL     SOCIETY 

"The  Sons  of  Liberty  preparing  to  have  a  procession,  with  Sir 
Jeifry  Amherst's  effigy,  afterwards  to  burn  it,  as  they  say  he  pro- 
posed to  augment  the  mihtary  forces  in  America,  towards  the 
more  effectual  forcing  the  Stamp  Act.  Also  propose,  erecting  a 
statue  of  Mr.  Pitt  (as  a  friend)  in  the  Bowling  Green,  on  the  iden- 
tical spot  where  the  Lieut.  Governor's  chariot  was  burned  and  to 
name  that  Green  'Liberty  Green'  forever."  " 

Bowling  Green,  therefore,  was  first  suggested  for  the  Pitt 
statue,  but  afterwards  the  king's  equestrian  statue  was  given  this 
imposing  location  while  Pitt  was  placed  at  Wall  and  William 

William  Pitt  enjoyed  the  favor  and  gratitude  of  the  populace  of 
both  England  and  America.  After  the  Repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act 
the  news  from  London  under  date  of  April  22,  1766  stated  that  "3. 
great  number  of  rings,  set  with  the  head  of  Mr.  Pitt,  are  intended 
to  be  sent  as  presents  to  some  of  the  principal  merchants  in  Amer- 
ica, by  their  correspondents  in  this  city,"  ^  while  on  May  3,  1766  it 
was  reported  from  London  in  the  New  York  press  that  a  handsome 
medal  had  been  struck  the  size  of  a  crown-piece  bearing  the  head  of 
Mr.  Pitt  with  his  name  and  on  the  reverse  the  inscription,  "The 
man  who,  having  saved  the  parent,  pleaded  with  success  for  her 
children"  and  on  the  same  day  it  was  announced  that  the  fine 
statue  of  Mr.  Pitt  to  be  placed  in  the  Guildhall  at  Cork,  Ireland, 
was  finished  by  Mr.  Wilton,  at  an  expense  of  500  pounds  and  that 
it  bore  the  following  inscription: 

The  Right  Honorable  William  Pitt. 

This  Statue  was  erected  by 

The  Corporation  and  Citizens  of  Cork, 

As  a  lasting  Memorial  of  Gratitude. 

Anno  1766. 

Nil  oriturum  alias  nil  ortum  tale  fatentes.     Hor"^ 

Whether  this  statue,  which  is  still  standing  in  the  corridor  of 
the  Crawford  Municipal  School  of  Art,  in  Emmet  Place,  Cork, 
Ireland,^  was  the  original  inspiration  for  the  sons  of  Liberty  to  do 

2  The  New  York  Historical  Society  Collections,  1881,  p.  353. 

2  Holt's  New  York  Gazette,  July  3,  1766,  Supp. 

4  JVeyvians  New  York  Gazette,  June  30,  1766. 

*  Hart's  Peale's  Allegory  of  William  Pitt,  1915,  page  5. 



yj6     •:.   /-/^'    ytj' 

■'■■  / 

40  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK    HISTORICAL     SOCIETY 

likewise  in  the  Colonies  or  the  Citizens  of  Cork  conceived  the  idea 
from  the  Colonies,  is  difficult  to  determine,  but  the  fact  is  that  the 
project  was  first  carried  out  in  Ireland  and  by  the  same  sculptor, 
Joseph  Wilton,  who  later  executed  the  work  for  the  Colonies. 
Following  closely  upon  the  completion  of  the  Cork  statue.  South 
Carolina  resolved  on  May  8,  1766  "that  they  will  make  provision, 
for  defraying  the  Expense  of  procuring  from  England,  a  Marble 
Statue  of  the  Right  Honorable  William  Pitt,  Esquire;  to  be  erected 
in  this  Province"  ^  which  (according  to  the  Charleston  press  of  the 
day)  met  with  many  adverse  comments. 

On  .June  19,  1766  a  notice  appeared  in  the  New  York  papers 
stating  that  "the  Freemen  and  Freeholders  of  the  City  of  New 
York  are  requested  to  meet  at  the  House  of  Mr.  Richard  Howard, 
To-morrow  in  the  Afternoon,  at  five  o'clock,  in  order  to  choose  a 
Committee  to  instruct  their  Members  to  move  in  the  House  of 
Assembly,  that  provision  be  made  for  erectmg  a  Statue  to  Mr.  Pitt, 
in  Testimony  of  the  Grateful  sense  they  entertain  of  his  Services 
to  the  American  Colonies;  and  to  write  Letters  of  thanks  to  all 
those  illustrious  personages  who  have  so  zealously  exerted  them- 
selves in  both  Houses  of  Parliament,  in  obtaining  the  Repeal  of  the 
Stamp  Act."  ' 

This  meeting  resulted  in  a  petition  dated  June  23,  1766  which 
was  presented  and  acted  upon  by  the  General  Assembly  of  New 
York  the  same  day  it  was  dated.     It  reads  as  follows: 

A  petition  addressed  to  John  Cruger,  Leonard  Lispenard,  and 
William  Bayard,  Esq"  Representatives  in  the  General  Assembly 
of  the  Freemen  and  Freeholders  of  the  City  of  New  York  read  as 
follows : 

"We,  Freemen  and  Freeholders  of  the  City  of  New  York, 
assembled  at  the  Coffee-House  the  23''  Day  of  June  1766,  impressed 
with  the  deepest  Sense  of  Gratitude  to  all  the  Friends  of  Liberty 
and  America  who  exerted  themselves  in  promoting  the  Repeal  of 
the  Stamp  Act,  think  it  our  indispensable  Duty  to  endeavour,  by 
erecting  a  proper  Monument,  to  perpetuate  the  Memory  of  so 
glorious  an  Event,  to  the  latest  posterity. 

We  therefore  earnestly  entreat  of,  and  strenuously  recommend 
to,  you  Gentlemen  our  Representatives,  that  3  ou  will  move  in  the 

*  S.  C.  Hist,  y  Gen.  Mag.  Vol.  15,  page  21,  &  Supp.  A^.  Y.  Gazette,  June  12,  1766. 
^  Holt's  N.  Y.  Gazette,  June  19,  1766. 



)-)  mKr.'g 



House  of  Assembly,  now  sitting,  for  a  Vote  of  the  Honourable 
House,  to  make  provision  for  an  elegant  Statue  of  Brass  of  the 
Rt.  Hon.  William  Pitt,  Esq.;  whom  we  regard  in  the  sacred  Light  of 
having  a  second  Time  been  the  preserver  of  his  Country. 

Signed  by  Order,  and  at  the  Request  of  a  considerable  Number 
of  respectable  Inhabitants  of  the  City  of  New  York,  assembled  as 

James  DeLancey  Isaac  Low, 

William  Walton,  Jun.  Henry  White, 

John  Thurman,  Jun.  J.  Harris  Cruger."^ 

8  ffeymans  N.  Y.  Gazette,  June  30,  1766. 

42  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK     HISTORICAL     SOCIETY 

On  June  23,  1766  Montressor  states  that  subscription  papers 
were  being  carried  about  for  a  Statue  of  Mr.  Pitt  to  be  erected  here.^ 

It  will  be  noted  that  until  now  no  aggitation  had  been  carried  on 
for  a  statue  of  George  III  and  not  even  a  mention  of  it  had  been 
made,  until  the  General  Assembly  of  New  York  acting  upon  the 
above  quoted  petition  took  "into  consideration  the  innumerable 
and  singular  Benefits  received  from  our  most  gracious  soverign, 
since  the  Commencement  of  his  auspicious  Reign,  during  which 
they  have  been  protected  from  the  Fury  of  a  cruel,  merciless,  and 
savage  Enemy;  and  lately  from  the  utmost  Confusion  and  Distress, 
by  the  Repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act:  In  Testimony  therefore  of  their 
Gratitude,  and  the  Reverence  due  to  his  Sacred  Person  and  Char- 

Resolved,  That  this  House  will  make  Provision  for  an  Equestrian 
Statue  of  His  present  Majesty,  our  Most  Gracious  Sovereign,  to  be 
erected  in  the  City  of  New  York,  to  perpetuate  to  the  latest  pos- 
terity, the  deep  Sense  this  Colony  has,  of  the  eminent  and  singular 
Blessings  derived  from  him,  during  His  most  auspicious  Reign." 

Whereupon  Mr.  Cruger  moved  "That  in  consideration  of  the 
many  eminent  and  essential  Services  done  the  Northern  Colonies 
by  the  Right  Honourable  William  Pitt,  Esq;  but  particularly  in 
promoting  the  Repeal  of  the  late  Stamp  Act,  and  to  perpetuate  to 
the  latest  posterity,  the  grateful  Sense  this  Colony  entertains  on 
that  Account;  provision  might  be  made  for  erecting  an  elegant 
Statue  of  Him  in  Brass:  whereupon  it  was 

"Resolved,  That  this  House  will  provide  ways  and  Means  to 
procure  and  pay  for  a  Statue  of  the  Right  Honourable  William 
Pitt,  Esq;  accordingly. "i" 

The  General  Assembly  which  enacted  these  Resolves  was 
prorogued  on  June  12,  1766  and  took  recess  on  July  3  having  com- 
pleted the  business  recommended  to  them  by  His  Excellency  Sir 
Henry  Moore,  Governor  of  the  Colony  of  New  York.  In  his 
Speech  to  the  Assembly  the  Governor  made  no  mention  of  the 
statues"  nor  did  he  give  his  assent  to  the  act  passed  providing  for 

®  N.  Y.  Hist.  Soc.  Collections  1881  page  374. 

10  Weymafis  The  New  York  Gazette,  June  30,  1766. 

11  See  Speech  in  JVeymans  N.  Y.  Gazette,  June  16,  1766. 

^  See  Four  Acts  assented  to  by  the  Governor  in  JVeymans  N.  Y.  Gazette,  July  7,  1766. 


Apparently  no  further  action  was  taken  towards  erecting  these 
statues  until  February  6,  1768  when  the  Assembly  passed  an  act 
reciting  their  previous  action  in  June  1766  in  consequence  of  which 
"Robert  Charles,  Esq.  the  Agent  of  this  Province  was  directed 
with  all  expedition  to  cause  the  before  mentioned"  statues  to  be 
completed  in  the  best  manner  and  authorized  Sir  William  Baker 
Knight  and  Robert  Charles  Esquire,  of  the  City  of  London,  out  of  the 
monies  now  in  their  hands  belonging  to  the  Colony,  to  pay  Robert 
Charles,  one  thousand  pounds  for  the  Equestrian  Statue  of  his 
Majesty  and  live  hundred  pounds  for  the  statue  of  the  Right 
Honorable  William  Pitt,  Esquire. ^^ 

On  the  same  day  that  the  New  York  Assembly  voted  to  provide 
for  the  erection  of  the  two  statues,  June  23,  1766,  the  Commons 
House  of  Assembly  of  the  Province  of  South  Carolina  voted  seven 
thousand  pounds  for  a  marble  Statue  of  William  Pitt  to  be  erected 
in  that  province  and  ordered  the  public  Treasurer  to  procure  good 
bills  of  Exchange  to  the  amount  of  one  thousand  pounds  Sterling 
and  remit  the  same  to  their  agent  towards  the  payment  of  the 
Statue. ^^ 

The  work  of  executing  the  George  HI  statue  as  well  as  the  two 
statues  of  William  Pitt  was  entrusted  to  Joseph  Wilton  (1722-1803) 
the  noted  sculptor  of  the  period,  one  of  the  founders  of  the  Royal 
Academy  of  Arts,  who  created  the  monument  in  Westminster  Abby 
erected  to  General  Wolfe  who  fell  at  Quebec. 

On  May  9th,  1770  it  was  stated  at  a  meeting  of  the  Common 
Council  that  the  statue  of  George  HI  was  daily  expected  from 
England  and  that  it  was  the  desire  of  Lieut.  Governor  and  Council 
to  erect  it  in  some  part  of  the  Bowling  Green,  fronting  the  fort, 
who  requested  leave  of  the  Corporation  for  that  purpose,  which  was 
granted. ^^ 

On  June  4,  1770  it  was  announced  that  the  ship  Britannia 
Captain  Thomas  Miller,  had  brought  over  "the  Statues  of  his 
Majesty  and  Mr.  Pitt  now  Earl  of  Chatham, "^^  and  the  Common 
Council  was  again  appealed  to  on  June  25th,  1770,  on  behalf  of  his 
Majesty's  Council  and  the  City  members  of  the  General  Assembly 

13  Colonial  Laws  of  New  York,  1894,  pages  1002-3. 

"  S.  C.  Hist,  y  G'en.  Mag.  Vol.  15,  page  22. 

15  Minutes  of  the  Common  Council,  City  of  New  York,  Vol.  7,  pages  212-21' 

1^  New  York  Gazette  y  Weekly  Mercury,  June  4,  1770. 

44  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK    HISTORICAL    SOCIETY 

for  permission  to  erect  the  Pitt  statue  in  "Wall  Street,  opposite 
to  the  houses  of  John  Thurman  and  Evert  Bancker,  nearly  where 
the  pump  now  stands,"  which  was  granted  accordingly.^'^ 

With  the  arrival  of  the  statues  and  the  necessary  permission 
granted  for  erecting  them  in  their  respective  locations,  the  stage  was 
set  for  carrying  out  the  projects  started  four  years  previously. 

The  newspapers  of  the  day  describe  the  ceremonies  at  the 
erection  of  King  George  III  statue  in  the  following  words. 

"Thursday  last  (August  i6,  1770)  being  the  Anniversary  of  the 
Birth  Day  of  his  Royal  Highness  Prince  Frederick,  an  elegant 
Equestrian  Statue  of  his  present  Majesty,  was  erected  in  the  Bowl- 
ing-Green,  in  this  City,  near  Fort-George.  On  this  occasion,  the 
Members  of  his  Majesty's  Council,  the  City  Corporation,  the  Cor- 
poration of  the  Chamber  of  Commerce,  the  Corporation  of  the 
Marine  Society,  and  most  of  the  Gentlemen  of  the  City  and  Army 
waited  on  his  Honour  the  Lieutenant  Governor,  in  the  Fort,  at  his 
request,  where  their  Majesties  and  other  loyal  Healths  were  drank, 
under  a  Discharge  of  32  Pieces  of  Cannon  from  the  Battery,  accom- 
panied with  a  Band  of  Music.  This  beautiful  statue  is  made  of 
metal,  richly  gilt,  being  the  first  Equestrian  one  of  his  present 
Majesty,  and  is  the  workmanship  of  that  celebrated  Statuary,  Mr. 
Wilton,  of  London.  We  hear  that  in  a  few  days  a  Marble  Pedestrian 
Statue  of  Mr.  Pitt,  will  be  erected  in  Wall-Street."  ^^ 

Another  account  says: 
"Thursday  last  the  Statue  of  his  Majesty,  King  George  the 
Third,  was  fixed  on  the  pedestal  erected  for  it  in  Bowhng  Green. 
His  Honour  the  Lieut.  Governor  having  invited  most  of  the  principal 
Gentlemen  in  the  City,  both  Civil  and  Military;  about  12  o'clock 
they  attended  his  Honour  in  Fort  George,  where  his  Majesty's 
Health,  &c.  was  drank,  under  the  Discharge  of  31  Cannon  from  the 

The  following  Inscription  is  on  the  pedestal  of  his  Majesty's 

1^  Minutes  of  the  Common  Council,  City  of  New  York,  Vol.  7,  page  220. 
1^  A^ezv  York  Journal  or  the  General  Advertiser,  Aug.  23,  1770. 





46  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK     HISTORICAL     SOCIETY 




George  III 

King  of  Great  Britain,  &c. 

Erected    MDCCLXX."^^ 

Lieutenant  Governor  Cadwallader  Golden  tells  of  this  celebra- 
tion in  a  letter  to  the  Earl  of  Hillsborough  dated  New  York  August 
i8,  1770.     He  says: 

"An  Equestrian  guilt  Statue,  of  the  king,  made  by 
direction  of,  and  purchased  by  this  Colony,  came  over  in  one  of  the 
last  ships  from  London.  On  Thursday  last  it  was  opened  to  view, 
erected  on  its  proper  pedestal,  in  a  square  near  the  Fort  and  fronting 
the  principle  street  of  the  City.  I  was  attended  on  this  occasion 
by  the  Gentlemen  of  the  Council,  and  Members  of  Assembly  then 
in  Town,  the  Magistrates  of  the  City,  the  Clergy  of  all  Denomina- 
tions, and  a  very  large  number  of  the  principal  Inhabitants.  Our 
Loyalty,  firm  attachment  and  affection  to  His  Maj*^®  person  was 
expressed  by  drinking  the  kings  Health,  and  a  long  continuance 
of  His  reign,  under  a  discharge  of  32  pieces  of  Cannon,  A  Band  of 
music  playing  at  the  same  time  from  the  Ramparts  of  the  Fort. 
The  General  and  Officers  of  the  Army  gave  us  the  honor  of  their 
company  on  the  occasion.  The  Whole  Company  walked  in  pro- 
cession from  the  Fort,  round  the  Statue,  while  the  Spectators  ex- 
pressed their  Joy,  by  loud  acclamations,  the  procession  having 
returned  with  me  to  the  Fort,  and  the  ceremony  concluded  with 
great  chearfulness  and  good  humor."  ^o 

No  mention  is  made  in  the  correspondence  of  Lieut.  Gov.  Golden 
to  the  erection  of  the  Pitt  statue  on  September  7,  1770  three  weeks 
after  the  above  described  ceremony  nor  is  it  recorded  that  he  took 
any  part  in  the  event  which  is  described  as  follows: 

Last  Friday  [September  7,  1770]  the  Statue  of  the  Right  Hon. 
William  Pitt,  Esq.,  Earl  of  Chatham,  was  fixed  on  the  Pedestal 
erected  for  it  in  Wall-Street,  amidst  the  Acclamations  of  a  great 
Number  of  the  Inhabitants.  The  Statue  is  of  fine  white  Marble,  the 
Habit  Roman,  the  right  Hand  holds  a  Scroll,  partly  open,  whereon 

1^  New  York  Gazette  or  the  Weekly  Post  Boy,  Aug.  20,  1770. 
^^  New  York  Historical  Society  Collections,  1877,  page  226. 






we  read,  Articuli  Magna  Charta.  Libertatum;  the  left  hand  is  ex- 
tended, the  Figure  being  in  the  Attitude  of  one  delivering  an  Ora- 
tion. On  the  South  Side  of  the  Pedestal,  the  following  Inscription 
is  cut  on  a  table  of  white  Marble: 














Another  contemporary  newspaper  prints  the  simple  announce- 

"Friday  last  a  marble  pedestrian  Statue  of  Lord  Chatham  was 
erected  in  Wall-Street  in  this  city."  " 

The  George  III  statue  was  placed  in  the  center  of  Bowling 
Green  facing  the  Fort.  It  was  modelled  by  Joseph  Wilton  after 
the  equestrian  statue  of  Marcus  Aurelius  in  Rome,  Italy,  illustrated 
in  this  article.  No  contemporary  picture  of  the  George  III  statue 
has  come  down  to  us.  An  imaginative  view  of  its  destruction  pub- 
lished in  France,  showing  the  king  as  a  pedestrian  is  wholly  incor- 
rect. Anderson's  early  wood  engraving  does  not  correspond  with 
facts.  But  we  are  indebted  to  our  member,  Mr.  Charles  M.  Lef- 
ferts,  who  after  very  careful  study  has  reproduced  for  the  Society 
a  correct  representation  of  this  Equestrian  statue  which  we  illus- 
trate as  a  frontispiece.  On  May  3rd,  1771  the  Common  Council  of 
the  city  agreed  to  fence  in  the  Green  with  iron  rails  and  a  stone 
foundation  according  to  a  plan  exhibited  to  the  Board  and  con- 
tracted with  Richard  Sharpe,  Peter  T.  Curtenius,  Gilbert  Forbes 

"  New  York  Gazette  or  the  Weekly  Post  Boy,  Sept.  10,  1770. 

''^  New  York  Gazette  and  the  JVeekly  Mercury,  Sept.  lo,  1770. 


and  Andrew  Lyall  to  complete  the  same  at  a  cost  of  £800.22  j^^ 
plan  of  Gerard  Bancker,  City  Surveyor,  is  reproduced  in  this  arti- 
cle and  gives  interesting  dimensions  of  the  green  oval. 

From  a  contemporary  map  of  the  city  we  find  that  the  Pitt 
statue  stood  in  the  center  of  the  roadway  at  the  intersection  of 
Wall  and  William  Streets.^'*  This  statue  was  also  enclosed  with  a 
railing  for  we  learn  that  certain  measurements  for  grading  Smith 
(now  William)  Street  were  made  from  "the  railing  at  Mr.  Pitt's 
statue "25  in  1773. 

Lieutenant  Isaac  Bangs  of  the  American  Army  gives  us  a  con- 
temporary descriptive  picture  of  the  King's  statue  as  he  saw  it  on 
April  19th,  1776: 

"Near  the  Fort,  is  the  Equestrian  Statue  of  King  George  3'^'  a 
present  from  himself  to  this  City.  The  design  was  in  imitation  of 
one  of  the  Roman  Emperors  on  Horseback.  The  Man  George  is 
represented  about  3^  larger  than  a  Natural  Man;  the  Horse,  in  pro- 
portion, both  neatly  constructed  of  Lead  gilt  with  Gold  raised  on  a 
Pedestal  of  White  Marble,  about  15  Feet  high,  enclosed  with  a  very 
elegant  Fence  about  10  feet  high,  the  two  lower  feet  Stone,  the  re- 
mainder of  open  worked  Iron;  the  enclosure  was  oval,  containing 
about  34  of  ari  acre  of  beautiful  green.  This,  with  several  churches 
and  other  Elegant  buildings  on  either  side  of  the  spacious  street, 
forms  a  most  beautiful  prospect  from  the  Fort."  ^e 

On  February  6th,  1773  the  General  Assembly  of  New  York 
passed  an  Act  to  prevent  the  defacing  of  the  statues  erected  in  the 
City  of  New  York  under  a  penalty  of  five  hundred  pounds  fine  or 
one  year  in  the  common  gaol."  This  legislation  appears  to  have 
been  the  result  of  some  injury  done  the  Pitt  statue  as  on  February 
7th,  1774  it  was  ordered  by  the  Common  Council  that  the  sum  of 
£6  be  paid  on  account  to  Anthony  Dodane  "for  work  now  by  him 
doing  to  the  statue  of  Mr.  Pit"  and  on  March  23,  1774  the  balance 
of  £16:6  was  ordered  paid  to  Anthony  Dodane  and  William  Valen- 
tine "for  repairing  of  the  statue  of  the  Earle  of  Chatham. "^s 

^  Minutes  of  the  Common  Council  City  of  New  York,  Vol.  7,  page  281. 

2^  Hill's  Ms.  Map  of  New  York,  1782  in  N.  Y.  H.  S.     Stokes'  Iconography,  Vol.  3,  page 
964,  says  the  statue  was  west  of  William  Street. 

^  Minutes  of  the  Common  Council,  City  oj  New  York,  Vol.  7,  pages  443,  448. 

^*  Journal  of  Lieut.  Isaac  Bangs,  1890,  page  25. 

2^  Laws  of  New  York,  1691-1773  N.  Y.  1774,  pages  719-20. 

^*  Minutes  of  the  Common  Council,  City  of  New  York,  Vol.  8,  pages  5,  16. 

50  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK    HISTORICAL    SOCIETY 

The  Declaration  of  Independence  which  was  read  on  July  9, 
1776  at  the  head  of  each  brigade  of  the  Continental  Army  posted 
at  New  York  brought  destruction  to  the  King's  statue  the  same 
evening  through  the  jovous  demonstrations  of  soldiers  and  inhabi- 
tants. For  in  the  words  of  the  press  of  the  day  we  read  that  "the 
equestrian  statue  of  George  III  which  tory  pride  and  folly  raised 
in  the  year  1770,  was  by  the  sons  of  freedom,  laid  prostrate  in  the 
dirt;  the  just  deserts  of  an  ungrateful  tyrant!  The  lead  wherewith 
this  monument  was  made,  is  to  be  run  into  bullets,  to  assimilate 
with  the  brains  of  our  infatuated  adversaries,  who,  to  gain  a  pep- 
per-corn, have  lost  an  empire.  'Quos  Deus  vult  perdere,  prius  de- 

Lieutenant  Isaac  Bangs  under  date  of  July  10,  1776  wrote: 
"Last  night  the  Statue  on  the  Bowling  Green  representing  George 
Ghewelph  alias  George  Rex  was  pulled  down  by  the  populace.  In 
it  were  4,000  pounds  of  Lead  and  a  Man  undertook  to  take  off  10  oz. 
of  gold  from  the  Superficies,  as  both  Man  and  Horse  were  covered 
with  Gold  leaf.  The  Lead  we  hear  is  to  be  run  up  into  musket 
balls  for  the  use  of  the  Yankees,  when  it  is  hoped  that  the  emana- 
tions of  the  Leaden  George  will  make  as  deep  impressions  in  the 
Bodies  of  some  of  his  red  coated  and  Tone  Subjects."     .     .     .^^ 

This  Act  met  with  the  disapproval  of  General  Washington  who 
expressed  himself  in  the  general  orders  to  the  army  on  July  10, 
1776,  viz.:  "Though  the  General  doubts  not  the  persons  who 
pulled  down  and  mutilated  the  Statue  in  the  Broadway  last  night 
were  actuated  by  zeal  in  the  public  cause,  yet  it  has  so  much  the 
appearance  of  a  riot  and  want  of  order  in  the  army,  that  he  disap- 
proves the  manner,  and  directs  that  in  the  future  these  things  shall 
be  avoided  by  the  soldiery,  and  left  to  be  executed  by  the  proper 
authority."  ^^ 

The  statue  of  the  king  was  broken  up  and  sent  to  Litchfield, 
Conn.,  where  according  to  the  Wolcott  family  papers  was  moulded 
into  bullets  by  the  ladies  of  that  village  and  a  memorandum  made 
as  follows: 

^^  Pennsylvania  Journal  and  the  Weekly  Advertiser,  July  17,  1776. 
^**  Journal  of  Lieut.  Isaac  Bangs  1890,  page  57. 
"^  Ford's  Writings  of  Washington,  Vol.  4,  page  226. 



52  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK     HISTORICAL     SOCIETY 


Mrs.  Marvin 6,058 

Ruth  Marvin 1 1>592 

Laura  [Wolcott] 8,378 

Mary  Ann  [Wolcott] 10,790 

Frederic  [Wolcott] 936 

Mrs.  Beach 1,802 

Made  by  sundry  persons 2,182 

Gave  Litchfield  militia  on  alarm 50 

Let  the  Regiment  of  Col.  Wigglesworth  have  300 

Number  of  cartridges 42,088.^" 

The  Society  possesses  a  bullet  mould  with  a  capacity  for  mak- 
ing twelve  bullets  at  one  time  which  is  said  to  have  been  used 
when  the  king's  statue  was  turned  into  the  above  mentioned  car- 
tridges. It  was  presented  to  the  Society  April  17,  i860  by  Mr, 
Clinton  Roosevelt,  grandson  of  Colonel  Peter  T.  Curtenius  of  the 

The  head  of  the  king's  statue  escaped  the  fate  which  befell  his 
body  and  horse  and  was  finally  returned  to  England  by  Captain 
John  Montressor  whose  own  words  tell  the  story  best,  viz. : 

"My  hearing  that  the  Rebels  had  cut  the  king's  head  off  the 
Equestrian  Statue  (in  the  centre  of  the  Ellipps  near  the  Fort)  at 
New  York,  which  represented  George  the  3rd  in  the  figure  of 
Marcus  Aurelius,  and  that  they  had  cut  the  nose  off,  dipt  the 
laurels  that  were  wreathed  round  his  head,  and  drove  a  musket 
Bullet  part  of  the  way  through  his  Head,  and  otherwise  disfigured 
it,  and  that  it  was  carried  to  Moore's  tavern,  adjoining  Fort  Wash- 
ington, on  New  York  Island,  in  order  to  be  fixed  on  a  Spike  on  the 
Truck  of  that  Flagstaff  as  soon  as  it  could  be  got  ready,  I  imme- 
diately sent  Corby  through  the  Rebel  Camp  in  the  beginning  of 
September,  1776,  to  Cox,  who  kept  the  Tavern  at  King's  Bridge,  to 
steal  it  from  thence,  and  to  bury  it,  which  was  effected,  and  was 
dug  up  on  our  arrival,  and  I  rewarded  the  men,  and  sent  the  Head 
by  the  Lady  Gage  to  Lord  Townshend  in  order  to  convince  them 
at  home  of  the  Infamous  Disposition  of  the  Ungrateful  people  of 
this  distressed  Country."  ^^ 

^^  Memorial  of  Henry  Wolcott  y  his  Descendants,  1881,  page  163. 
^^  New  York  Historical  Society  Collections,  1881,  pages,  123-124. 


'■.^s^--^^*i;^; '^  i«^^«®^ 



Governor  Thomas  Hutchinson  in  his  diary  under  date  of  No- 
vember 22,  1777  continues  the  narrative  of  events  concerning  the 
king's  head:  "At  Lord  Townshend's  Portman  Square.  Lady 
Townshend  asked  me  if  I  had  a  mind  to  see  an  instance  of  Ameri- 
can loyalty?  and  going  to  the  sopha,  uncovered  a  large  gilt  head, 
which  at  once  appeared  to  be  that  of  the  King,  which  it  seems  the 
rebels  at  N.  York,  after  the  Declaration  of  Independence,  cut  off 
from  the  statue  which  had  been  erected  there,  and  sent  to  Fort 
Washington,  in  order  to  fix  it  on  a  pole  or  pike:  but  by  some  means 
or  other  it  was  buried,  and  after  the  surrender  of  the  Fort,  Mon- 
tressor  took  it  into  his  possession,  and  sent  it  to  Lord  T.,  which  he 
rec'^  last  night.  The  nose  is  wounded  and  defaced,  but  the  gilding 
remains  fair;  and  as  it  was  well  executed,  it  retains  a  striking  like- 
ness." ^^ 

The  top  slab  of  the  pedestal  on  which  the  King's  charger  stood 
with  one  foot  raised  served  several  purposes  before  its  final  resting 
place  with  this  Society.  During  the  Revolution  it  was  brought 
to  Paulus  Hoeck  (Jersey  City)  and  in  1783  was  placed  over  the 
grave  of  Major  John  Smith  of  the  42d  or  Royal  Highland  Regi- 

^^  Diary  and  Letters  of  His  Ex.  Thomas  Hutchinson,  1886,  Vol.  2,  page  167. 

54  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK    HISTORICAL    SOCIETY 

ment  who  died  July  25,  1783.  When  Jersey  City  was  graded,  the 
slab  was  removed  to  the  residence  of  Cornelius  Van  Vorst  at  Har- 
simus,  N.  J.,  and  used  as  a  stepping-stone.  In  1818  the  stone  was 
removed  to  the  residence  of  his  grandson,  Cornelius  Van  Vorst,  N. 
E.  corner  Wayne  St.  and  Jersey  Ave.,  where  it  remained  until 
October,  1874,  when  it  was  presented  by  him  to  the  New  York 
Historical  Society. 

Four  fragments  of  the  leaden  statue  still  partly  gilt,  also  sur- 
vived. They  were  found  in  April,  1871  on  the  farm  of  E.  B. 
Cooley  at  Wilton,  Conn.,  and  comprise  the  tail  of  the  horse,  part  of 
the  saddle  and  saddle  cloth  and  perhaps  parts  of  the  flank  of  the 
horse,  and  altogether  weigh  about  200  pounds.  Twenty  members 
of  the  Society  subscribed  five  dollars  each  (one  hundred  dollars) 
for  their  purchase  and  presented  them  to  the  Society,  June  4,  1878. 
How  these  fragments  became  separated  from  the  main  portions  of  the 
statue  is  a  matter  of  conjecture.  Tradition  in  Wilton  was  that 
these  pieces  had  been  thrown  aside  when  the  statue  was  being 
transported  through  the  town.^^ 

The  white  marble  pedestal  fifteen  feet  high  on  which  the  eques- 
trian statue  stood,  remained  in  the  center  of  Bowling  Green  until 
1818  when  it  was  removed.  A  correspondent  in  the  New  York 
Evening  Post  of  May  19,  181 8  asks  why  this  pedestal  which  has 
remained  standing  so  many  years  should  at  that  time  be  removed 
and  the  materials  thrown  into  the  street.  Expressing  deep  regret 
the  writer  says:  "Association  entwined  about  this  pillar  a  collec- 
tion of  events  that  no  history  could  convey." 

The  Pitt  statue  fared  no  better  than  its  illustrious  companion, 
for  the  British  took  possession  of  the  City  of  New  York  September 
15,  1776  and  shortly  afterward  some  British  officers  knocked  off" 
the  head  of  the  statue  on  St.  Andrew's  night,  November  30,  and  to 
this  day  no  trace  of  it  has  come  to  light.^*'  The  headless  and  arm- 
less form  remained  standing  on  its  original  site  until  on  March  21, 
1787,  a  petition  of  a  majority  of  the  proprietors  of  the  Lots  of 
Ground  in  Wall  Street  requested  that  the  street  be  regulated  and 
paved  and  that  Pitt's  statue  which  greatly  obstructed  the  street  be 
removed."     The  paving  was  ordered  and  the  matter  of  removing 

^*  Mass.  Historical  Society  Proceedings,  2d  Ser.,  Vol.  4,  p.  297. 

^^Wztsons  J nnals  of  New  York,  1846,  pages  183-4.     Stokes'  Iconography,  Vol.  3,  page 
964,  says  1777. 

''  Minutes  0}  the  Common  Council,  City  of  New  York,  Vol.  i,  page  285. 



56  T  H  E     N  E  W-Y  ORK    HISTORICAL     SOCIETY 

the  Statue  referred  to  the  State  Legislature,  for  in  1788  we  learn 
that  a  bill  from  the  Senate  "to  authorize  the  Corporation  of  New 
York  to  remove  Pitt's  statue  was  read  a  second  time,  and  commit- 

This  Act  which  was  passed  March  7,  1788  recited  that  the  lev- 
elling and  altering  of  Wall  Street  rendered  it  inconvenient  that  the 
remains  of  the  statue  should  continue  there,^'^  and  at  a  Common 
Council  meeting  held  July  16,  1788  it  was  ordered  in  pursuance  to 
the  above  law  that  the  Aldermen  and  Assistants  of  the  Dock  and 
Eastwards  be  a  committee  to  remove  the  remains  of  Pitt's  statue 
from  Wall  Street  and  that  they  deposit  the  same  in  some  safe 
place  until  the  further  order  of  the  Board.^" 

On  November  19,  1788  a  warrant  on  the  Treasury  was  issued 
to  George  Gosman  for  £5-7-3  for  removing  Pitt's  statue.^^ 

From  various  accounts  it  appears  that  the  statue  was  taken  to 
the  Corporation  Yard  (Bridewell  Yard)  and  from  thence  transfer- 
red to  the  yard  of  the  Arsenal  near  the  Collect  where  it  was  seen  in 
1843  by  Mr.  John  P.  Watson,  author  of  the  A7inals  of  New  York, 
On  August  12,  181 1  the  Common  Council  resolved  to  present  to 
the  Academy  of  Fine  Arts  the  remains  of  the  Pitt's  statue  which  on 
account  of  its  excellent  workmanship  would  be  very  acceptable  to 
them.^2  It  is  doubtful  if  the  statue  actually  passed  into  the  posses- 
sion of  that  Society  as  it  is  not  mentioned  in  their  first  exhibition 
catalogue  in  1816  nor  in  an  account  of  the  statuary  belonging  to 
the  Society  published  in  181 5. 

It  next  appears  in  the  possession  of  the  "Fifth  Ward  Museum 
Hotel,"  corner  Franklin  Street  and  West  Broadway,  where  it  re- 
mained until  the  Executor's  sale  of  the  effects  of  the  late  Thomas 
Riley  (proprietor  of  the  Museum  Hotel),  on  February  12,  1864, 
when  it  was  purchased  by  Mr.  Samuel  F.  Mackie  and  by  him  pre- 
sented to  the  Society  the  same  year. 

The  Charleston,  S.  C,  statue  of  William  Pitt  was  erected  July 
5,  1770  and  now  stands  minus  one  arm  in  Washington  Square  near 
where  it  originally  stood.     It  met  much  the  same  fate  as  the  New 

s*  New  York  Daily  Advertiser,  March  5,  1788. 

39  Laws  of  New  York,  1886,  Vol.  II,  page  725. 

*"  Mifiutes  of  the  Common  Council,  City  of  New  York,  Vol.  I,  page  381 

^  Ibid.,  Vol.  I,  page  418. 

*2  Minutes  of  the  Common  Council,  City  of  New  York,  Vol.  6,  page  676. 



York  statue,  having  had  its  right  arm  destroyed  by  a  British  Can- 
nonball  on  April  i6,  1780  and  on  December  12,  1791  the  City 
Council  of  Charleston  authorized  its  removal  which  was  accom- 
plished March  14,  1794  and  it  was  lodged  in  the  Arsenal.  In  re- 
moving it,  the  statue  was  allowed  to  fall  and  the  head  was  severed. 
In  May,  1808  it  was  re-erected  in  the  Orphan  House  yard  where  it 
stood  until  1881  when  it  was  moved  to  Washington  Square,  where 
it  now  stands,  having  been  repaired  to  the  extent  of  replacing  the 

The  two  statues  while  not  replicas  were  about  the  same  size.  It 
is  of  interest  to  note  that  Maryland  in  November,  1766  also  passed 
resolutions  for  a  marble  statue  of  Pitt,  which  wis  not  carried  out, 
while  Dedham,  Mass.,  erected  a  shaft  with  a  wooden  bust  of  Pitt 
on  top."*^ 

«  See  Full  Account  in  S.  C.  Hist,  'd  Gen.  Mag.,  Vol.  15,  pages  18-32. 

«  Hart's  Peale's  Allegory  of  Pitt,  1915,  page  7,  and  Dedham  Historical    Register,  Vol.  i, 
pages  121  and  140. 

A.  J.  Wall. 


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